BERLIN, Germany: Germany has delayed approval of the controversial Nord Stream 2 natural gas pipeline that runs from Russia to Germany.
Prior to certifying the €10bn gas pipeline, German officials said the pipeline's operating company needed to comply with German law.
After news of the decision was announced, UK and mainland Europe wholesale gas prices surged to a three-week high.
Critics have long voiced concerns that the pipeline will result in Europe increasing its energy dependence on Russia.
Meanwhile, Russia's state-owned Gazprom earlier said the pipeline was ready to begin operations in September.
Routed under the Baltic Sea, Nord Stream 2 will allow Moscow to double its gas exports to Germany. It will also bypass Ukraine, preventing the country from receiving much-needed transit fees.
The German regulator also announced that "it would only be possible to certify an operator of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline if that operator was organized in a legal form under German law," according to the BBC.
The German decision will slow down the opening of the pipeline by some months. However, before going online the Nord Stream 2 will also need approval from the European Commission.
The German regulator said it could only approve the project after "the main assets and human resources" had been transferred to Nord Stream 2's German subsidiary, as required by law.
Earlier, Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky described Nord Stream 2 as a "dangerous geopolitical weapon".
Also, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said Europe would have to make a choice "between mainlining ever more Russian hydrocarbons in giant new pipelines, and sticking up for Ukraine and championing the cause of peace and stability," as reported by the BBC.